Playing video games may be a surprising way for surgeons, particularly those who perform robotic and laparoscopic surgery, to sharpen their skills for the operating theater, according to new research. Several games were identified as particularly useful for surgeons and medical students, including hit title Rocket League.
The research comes from the University of Ottawa medical student Arnav Gupta and researchers with the University of Toronto who analyzed 16 different studies collectively involving 575 people. The findings indicated that playing video games may serve as a ‘valuable adjunct training’ for medical students who plan to specialize in surgeries.
The benefits were most associated with robotic surgery, according to the study, and included things like a boost to the economy of motion, completion time, and the surgeon’s overall performance. Similar improvements were also identified in relation to laparoscopic surgery, including a boost in accuracy, the amount of time needed for certain tasks, the economy of motion, and the surgeon’s overall performance.
In describing how video games may offer benefits, Gupta explained:
While video games can never replace the value of first-hand experience, they do have merit as an adjunctive tool, especially when attempting to replicate important movements to surgery. For example, first-person shooting games require you to translate three dimensional motions onto a two-dimensional screen, which is like the concept of laparoscopic surgery.
Certain games were found to offer potential benefits for students who plan to specialize in laparoscopic and robotic surgeries, including Half Life, Underground, Rocket League, and Super Monkey Ball. They’re not the only games that may be beneficial, however, with Gupta noting, “I’m not joking when I say that games such as Fortnite have the potential” to sharpen surgical skills.